University of Wisconsin–Madison

Host family, University, and Culture Shock!

I have been in Granada for over a month now! I can’t believe that the time went by so quickly! I have been getting used to the way life is here. It is a lot more relaxed than in the States, but I love it! I am living with a host family here, and it definitely has been an experience. I live with a woman and her seven-year-old daughter. I love that is a small family because I am more comfortable attempting to speak Spanish. However, on the first day I was with them, Elena (the daughter) kept asking me if I was this word that I didn’t know in Spanish. Since I didn’t know the word, I just awkwardly laughed. A few days later, my señora was talking about how her mother is hard of hearing, and then she said the word… Everything had clicked. Elena was asking me if I was deaf. Let’s just say I definitely know that word now! I have my own room and bathroom in the apartment, so it is so nice to have my own space! My señora makes the BEST food ever, which is awesome, but I’m going to come back 300 pounds. I live in a nice neighborhood, and another girl from my program actually lives in the apartment right next to me. It’s really nice to have her to walk with to school and everything. I do live a little far from school. It’s about a half hour walk if I walk fast. It gets tiring when I have to walk to class in the morning, walk back for lunch, and then walk to class and back home again. I mean at least it keeps me active and burns some of the calories that I consume from the food!

I go to school at a place called CEGRI, which is International Center of Higher Learning. It is a school only for the students in my program! I really like it because there are only 21 students in my program, so the classes are smaller and you have a lot more individualized attention from the teachers. So you have probably guessed, the school is pretty small. There is a courtyard, library, computer lab (with free printing! I’m going to miss that when I go back to Madison :/), and 3 classrooms. All the teachers are amazing, and they all really want you to learn the material than do well on the tests.

I bet everyone has heard about the dreaded culture shock that one experiences when they go abroad. All I have to say is don’t worry! We had a meeting on culture shock one of the first days that we got here, and they honestly made it sound like a disease. But, I want you to know that it is not! It is totally manageable if you know that you are going to experience it and are ready to fight it. I experience culture shock everyday, but I am becoming more accepting of the culture. I think I experienced culture shock right after I got to Spain. I had one day of “oh wow! This place is awesome!” and then the next I was so ready to jump on a plane to come back to Wisconsin. Everything was just weird and different, and I didn’t understand the language. I fought through it, and I am so glad I did! I think the best way to deal with it is write in a journal. Write down what is different and try to understand why it is different, and even just writing down your feelings make you feel a lot better. Also, I have a great support system that told me everyday that they love me and I will never forget this experience! Even though this culture is a lot different than ours, it makes me appreciate the different cultures of the world.

I know I don’t have any pictures this post, but I’ll definitely include more in the next posts!

Hasta Luego!